When discussing loose mineral, the most frequent question I get on my travels across the south-central United States is, “what’s your best cow mineral?” This is a somewhat loaded question because everyone has their own definition of “best.” To some, “best” may mean whichever mineral has the most additives on the label; to others, “best” may mean whichever is the cheapest. An all-too-common approach to deciding which mineral is the “best” is comparing two tags side by side, and whichever tag is higher in this ingredient or that is deemed “better.” To me, all of these definitions of “best” are limited by too much focus on one single component.
Producers want a mineral program that offers the most valuable combination of nutrition and price in relation to the goals of their operation. They want multiple pieces of a mineral program to come together in an optimal package. But identifying that sweet spot is not easy because every cow calf operation has unique goals. In a perfect world, every ranch, no matter how big or small, would regularly test its soil, forage and water to formulate the exact mineral program needed for their situation, and then the formula would have to change about three times a year based on forage quality. Unfortunately, this is not realistic, nor is it possible for feed companies to manufacture an endless number of mineral formulas. What is practical is identifying appropriate ranges of inclusion levels that will meet most of the needs for cattle on pasture year-round and formulating a mineral line that falls within those ranges. From there, the key is consistent feeding. This practicality and simplicity make up the concept behind the SWEETLIX® Classic Cow Calf Mineral line.
The SWEETLIX Classic Cow Calf Mineral line comprises six different products that cover almost all of the mineral nutrition needs of cattle on pasture at any time of the year when fed consistently. The entire line revolves around a core formulation of 12–14% calcium, 6% phosphorus, 14–16% salt and 1% magnesium that is fortified at 150% NRC for trace minerals and vitamins and includes Sel-plex® organic selenium. These levels were all selected to offer the optimal nutrition level at an affordable price. Building off our core formula, we include the most common seasonal additives to the lineup to, again, meet almost any producer’s needs. These options include:
- CTC 6000
- ClariFly® and CTC 6000
We have also recently added a SWEETLIX® Classic Cow Calf High Mag Mineral to help prevent grass tetany in rapidly growing forages. It is the only mineral in the lineup with slightly different fortification levels. The magnesium is higher at 10% rather than 1%, and the phosphorus is dropped from 6% to 3%. The SWEETLIX Classic Cow Calf Mineral line, along with all other SWEETLIX minerals, is also completely weatherized with our Rainbloc technology.
The most common question I get about the SWEETLIX® Classic Cow Calf Mineral line is, “how can you keep the mineral fortification levels the same (primarily calcium and phosphorus) and still meet the varying nutritional needs of cattle on different quality levels of forage?” This is a fair question, and I always have the same answer: consistency.
There is no doubt that phosphorus and other nutrient levels in low-quality hay are much different from those in good summer grass. But is upping the phosphorus from a 6% spring/summer mineral to an 8% winter mineral at a 4-oz. consumption going to dramatically alter the phosphorus reserves of your cattle? I would argue probably not, as it delivers less than 2.5 additional grams of phosphorus daily.
What could change the phosphorus reserves of your cattle is a scenario that we have all experienced. Say your mineral supplier does not have the higher phosphorus winter mineral in stock, so you decide to wait until it comes in. But you get caught up with other aspects of life, and, next thing you know, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into a month, and now it has been 45 days since you put out minerals. It was not intentional, but it happens more frequently than any of us would like to admit. The simplicity of the SWEETLIX Classic Cow Calf Mineral line makes applying nutrition easier, and when things are easier, they are more likely to be done. So, consistency is key.
The SWEETLIX Classic Cow Calf Mineral Line is not a silver bullet when it comes to mineral nutrition. There are still outlying circumstances where higher or lower levels of certain nutrients are not just warranted but needed. That is exactly why SWEETLIX has other beef cow mineral formulas. However, the mineral business has become so complex, with endless formulations for every scenario under the sun, that it has become entirely too complicated for producers, retailers and even feed companies. The introduction of the SWEETLIX Classic Cow Calf Mineral line streamlines mineral nutrition for everyone and makes the question, “what’s your best cow mineral?” a little easier to answer.